Migrant workers should be paid more - Immigration Minister

The Immigration Minister says he's hearing stories of migrant exploitation more often than he's comfortable with.

A report commissioned by E tu union has revealed just how poorly paid Filipino workers are.

Iain Lees-Galloway says tackling the issues is a top priority.

"We're about to embark on a piece of work that looks at all of our immigration settings, to look at what the opportunities are for exploitation in our immigration system," he told Newshub.

Mr Lees-Galloway says workers should be paid above the market rate "so that we can be absolutely certain that migrant workers are being brought to New Zealand to fill a genuine skills shortage - not simply to be exploited".

He says it isn't going to be a quick fix.

"There should be an expectation that everyone that's involved with migrant workers has an interest in their pastoral care - that means employers, that means communities, it means the Government as well."

E tū infrastructure spokesperson Ron Angel says the negative experience takes a huge toll.

"They are away from their families, they are treated poorly, and they are starting to suffer from depression."

The research commissioned by E tū recorded the experience of mostly Filipino construction workers in Christchurch and Auckland in 2017 and 2018.

One Filipino worker earned $27 an hour, compared with $35 paid to Kiwi workers, but said others earn much less - as little as $19 an hour.

In one case, three interviewed workers shared a sleepout with another 10 in the house, all paying $150 a week rent. In another case, four families shared a four-bedroom home. Many experienced damp, unhealthy living conditions.